Philadelphia to Heathrow (140 TP)
The traffic on the highway from downtown Philly to the airport is busy, but it’s free flowing. My Uber driver is noted for her “great conversations”, but aside from her initial curiosity as to what an English guy is doing in town, most of the journey is silent, and twenty minutes later we’re at the airport.
Philadelphia airport has six terminals A through F, with terminal A split into West and East sections. International departures leave from Terminal A West, but unless you’re arriving internationally, in which case you end up in a large immigration hall, once you’re airside you’re able to move freely between the terminals. There’s a lengthy queue for security at A West, so I make my way landside to A East, which has the advantage of a TSA Pre-Check line, and I’m airside in a few minutes and headed to the lounge.
The BA lounge is in the Terminal A West departure hall. It’s only the second time I’ve been here, but again it seems too small for the number of status passengers, and it feels a little crowded. I’m on a first class ticket again, after upgrading using 20,000 air miles just like on the inbound, and this comes with a la carte dining in the lounge – the beef brisket with red wine jus turns out to be pretty good!
Boarding is announced. On arriving at the gate initially there’s no sign of it, but eventually it commences. I’ve got seat 1K this time, in the nose of the 747. There’s fine dining on offer, but I’ve eaten already and am tired. After a glass of pre-departure champagne, and a post-departure gin and tonic, I ask the cabin crew to make up my bed so I can sleep, which I manage to do until close to arrival at Heathrow T5. On disembarking the Customer Service Manager says he’d come to say hello on a couple of occasions, but I was out cold.
Heathrow to Dublin, and Back Again (80 TP)
Landing at Heathrow does not signal the end of the journey, at least not yet. There are two more flights to take, over to Dublin…and then back to Heathrow! The original ticket was ex-Dublin, bought at a much cheaper price than one starting in the UK, and according to the conditions of the ticket that’s where I need to start and end my journey. There are innumerable threads on the Flyertalk BA Forum about the consequences of “dropping the last leg”. Worries of potential ticket re-pricing or loss of avios or BA Executive Club status abound, but seem largely groundless. In any case, I want the extra tier points from completing the trip, and as an added benefit from arriving in First, get to visit the Concorde Room again briefly for breakfast.
The flight to Dublin is on time, and on this occasion on an Airbus A321, the largest of the Airbus single-aisle aircraft family, presumably on account of the number of people heading home for Christmas.
I have a layover of a few hours at Dublin airport. On other occasions I would have taken the risk of a “back to back”, dashing out of the airport and back in and through security to re-board the same plane. But it’s Christmas Eve, my connection at Heathrow is fairly tight, and I don’t want to risk not being able to get home for Christmas. The revamped lounge at Dublin Airport Terminal 1 is quiet, and it’s no great inconvenience to spend a bit of time there awaiting the flight.
The final flight of the trip is on an Airbus A319, the smallest planes in BA’s family if you exclude the BA CityFlyer Embraers, and the sole remaining Airbus A318 “Baby Bus”. The flight back is smooth and on time, and it’s dark when we pull up at the jet bridge at Heathrow T5. All in all it’s been a fun few days, there were no missed connections or other irregular operations (IROPS), and there are now another 720 tier points in total on the board towards GGL. Time for a few days at home with family, before the “Phoenix Run”!